On the Connection of Populism and Media Hostility

On the Connection of Populism and Media Hostility

Negative attitudes towards the media have increased in Germany in recent years.  In a study recently published in the journal M&K, the authors looked for reasons for media hostility. They specifically examined the connection between populist attitudes and media hostility at the individual level. The whole article is available for download free of charge at the eLibrary of the Nomos Verlag.

The authors conducted an online survey with 1,102 participants and came to the conclusion that the direct and indirect influence of populist beliefs on media hostility is "impressively strong". According to the authors, the idea of an immoral and manipulative media system that was brought into line can essentially be traced back to populist thought patterns. In their study, the authors understand populist thought patterns as a “certain way to classify and evaluate things” and essentially the belief that the homogeneous “good people” and the “bad elite” face each other. The affiliation to the classical political groups “left” and “right” is to a much lesser extent responsible for media hostility. Socio-demographic factors also play a lesser role.

Effects of Media Hostility

Finally, the authors examined the effects of hostility to the media caused by populism. They showed that people with ideas of media hostility react with anger on an emotional level. At the behavioural level, they are also politically more active and express their opinions more often in the media. However, the ideological background of these activities suggests that they tend to take place without the acceptance of diverse opinions, the recognition of basic facts and/or in isolated spaces. Therefore, it is questionable whether this type of participation contributes to a constructive, solution-oriented democratic discourse or rather stands in its way.

The scientific journal “Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft“ (M&K) [Media & Communication Studies] is edited and published by the Hans-Bredow-Institut since 1953. M&K is published quarterly by the Nomos-Verlag, Baden-Baden, and is an interdisciplinary forum for theoretical and empirical contributions from the entire field of media and communications research.

*Johanna Schindler / Claudia Fortkord / Lone Posthumus / Magdalena Obermaier / Nayla Fawzi / Carsten Reinemann: Woher kommt und wozu führt Medienfeindlichkeit? Zum Zusammenhang von populistischen Einstellungen, Medienfeindlichkeit, negativen Emotionen und Partizipation [Where Does Media Hostility Come From and What Does It Lead To? A Connection of Populist Attitudes, Media Hostility, Negative Emotions and Participaton]. In: Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft, Jahrgang 66(3), pp. 283-301.


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